1928 RALLY ABC SPORTS
Founded at Colombes-sur-Seine in 1921, Automobiles Rally was one of France's foremost producers of lightweight sporting voiturettes alongside the likes of Salmson, Amilcar, and SARA. Its earliest products were powered by Harley-Davidson motorcycle engines, but the firm soon moved on to four-cylinder units supplied by Chapuis-Dornier, CIME, SCAP, and Ruby.
At the Paris Salon de l'Auto in October 1927, Rally unveiled an entirely new model: the ABC, a low two-seater featuring an under-slung chassis with semi-elliptic springing. The name was a play on words, specifically 'abaissée', meaning lowered. Rally's own front brakes were fitted, while the fuel tank was positioned ahead of the scuttle, beneath the long bonnet. The first ABCs used 1,095cc four-cylinder Chapuis-Dornier overhead-valve engines; later examples were fitted with 1,100cc or 1,170cc SCAP units and those of other suppliers. Twelve-valve competition and supercharged variants were available. Designed by Charles Rothschild, this new ABC was a considerable commercial success for Rally, and at the 1928 Paris salon it was only model they displayed, featuring new Perrot-type front brakes.
The sporting ABC's under-slung chassis dramatically lowered the centre of gravity, which combined with the Perrot brakes made for a fast and agile car. On early examples the passenger's seat was mounted slightly to the rear of the driver's, although this was later changed to improve comfort. Produced in both open and closed versions, the ABC quickly became a favourite of the sporting motorist. Even the smallest capacity derivative was reputedly capable of over 80mph, and the ABC was a popular choice for up-to-1,100cc class events.
The ABC's competition palmarès includes respectable results at the Grand Prix de l'ACF, Spa 24 hours, San Sebastian Grand Prix, Bordeaux Grand Prix, Burgundy Grand Prix, Bol d'Or, Mille Miglia, and the 1929 Brooklands 'Double Twelve' where one finished 3rd. The 1929 Paris-Saint Raphael and Paris-Nice races brought two victories in the 1,100cc category, while at the Tour de France Automobile, out of three 1,100cc-class finishers, two were Rally ABCs that completed the course without penalties. At the Comminges Grand Prix, Anne-Cécile Rose-Itier secured 3rd place driving her own SCAP-engined Rally, behind two Amilcar C6s. A Rally finished in 4th place at the 1930 Grand Prix of Morocco, while at that year's Mille Miglia, the SCAP-engined ABC crewed by Conconi/Camavelli finished 71st overall and 16th in class.
The Rally ABC is, with the Lombard AL3, considered the most beautiful of the 1,100cc-class sports-racers of its time. It is estimated that around 150 cars were made, of which some 20-or-so survive. Like many of its contemporaries, Rally was not strong enough to survive the economic depression of the early 1930s, and the factory closed its gates in the summer of 1933.
The ABC offered here is a desirable Ruby DS Grand Sport-engined version, which with some 30-34 horsepower available it is said to be more powerful than other models. Chassis number '600' was owned by Swiss collector Hans Bodmer in the early 1980s, and in 1984 went to the Deutsches Automuseum at Schloss Langenburg, where it was displayed until a few years ago when the current owner bought it. Presented in beautiful condition, the car is on the button and ready to take to any event or concours. Offered with Netherlands registration papers, this elegant and rare Vintage-era voiturette is eligible for the Mille Miglia and many other prestigious events, including those organised by the VSCC.
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